RATCHAPRASONG, MAY 10, 2010: After several days of internal discussions leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) today responded to the five-point road map of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
UDD secretary-general, Natthawut Saikua said the groups two-month long rally has constantly used peaceful methods to bring about social change to Thailand and this approach will not change.
Describing the rally as “an historic struggle”… “the first led by ordinary people” he said the red-shirt rally was now recorded in [Thai] history. While the red-shirts had used peaceful methods in its attempt to bring about change, Mr. Natthawut said the government had embarked on a campaign of violence, lies, defamation and censorship in an attempt to discredit the movement and fool the people.
“We do not want violence. We do not want any additional injuries and deaths no matter who causes them. We are sincere in embracing the Prime Ministers road map and unanimously accept it. This is a complex situation that has been years in the making”, he said.
Mr. Natthawut said the unanimous decision of the core UDD leaders is that they accept the November 14 election date proposed by the Prime Minister.
However, Mr. Natthawut said the violence of April 10 had resulted in the deaths of 25 red-shirt protesters and injuries to more than 800 others.
“We are accused of being terrorists. We have not asked for amnesty and are prepared to fight the charges laid against us through the courts. If we are declared guilty and receive the death penalty, we accept it. But Abhisit and Suthep must face the same court process and accept the same fate if found guilty.
“This is not to raise bargaining conditions. This will be a historic case because in the past wrongdoers have received amnesties.
“Abhisit has parliamentary immunity, but Suthep does not. We therefore call on the police to request an arrest warrant on charges of ordering murder
“The leaders have unanimously agreed that we will end our rally on the same day that Suthep gives himself up to the police.
“Next, the UDD is ready to end our rally to enter the roadmap process, but PTV must go back on the air at the same time. Stop interfering with our TV signal and get us back on the air immediately”, he added.
According to Mr. Natthawut the use of the state of emergency (SOE) is a pressure tactic from the government. “If the government thinks it can continue it must explain it to the people and face their wrath.”
Mr. Natthawut said the red-shirts “are determined to work with all segments of Thai society to work towards reconciliation and a democratic election, but, at the same time, there must be an independent agency established to investigate violent incidents that is acceptable to everyone”.
Describing the decision to end the protest rally as “a difficult one”, Mr. Natthawut said “the leaders felt it was the only way to avoid further deaths and injuries”.
“No one group should claim victory. This should be a victory for the entire country. We are sorry for problems we have caused, but we ask for understanding for why our actions were necessary”, he added.
Today is day 56 of the red-shirts pro-democracy protest against the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the 36th day protesters have occupied the Ratchaprasong shopping precinct in the heart of Bangkok.